I have been hearing from lots of people out there that they really don’t understand how to use the USGS tool, so I wanted to write a quick piece with some tips on using all that data that USGS compiles and how it can give you, the fisherman a definite advantage. The USGS site is a scientific site so we need to remember this is raw data, so it really doesn’t tell us if the fish are biting or not. Take one look at the website and I admit it can be a bit intimidating. It is mighty helpful however in determining optimum flows especially when you spread that data out and look at it from a 30, 60,or 90 day spread. If you watch this spread you can make a better determination of the water conditions. For example if the USGS data tells me that the water is running a little high I would assume it may be cloudy as well, maybe I want to plan to fish nymphs or dry flys along the edges. This tool has now allowed me to arrange any gear needed to do that. Maybe you notice low water trends then you may want to plan on taking your tippet size down as to not spook fish.
Fish are definitely influenced by the water flows and hold in completely different places during water fluctuations. One good example of this that comes to mind is a day in late Mar. 2010 during the high water episode we had on the Farmington River. We had flows on the river of 2000cfs and I spooked a big trout on my walk in, that was 15ft up in the woods in a shallow pool, at the sight of my he immediately exploded through the brush and back into the main river channel. Any information beforehand is information worth having.
When you use these USGS water trends in conjunction with a weather report, now you have even more information and you haven’t even got your feet wet yet. I always like using these tools and knowing what I am getting before I arrive, especially when you may have to travel long distances before fishing. Learn to use this tool and you too will be able to better select your tactics and be PREPARED for the water conditions. Above is a small tutorial I created with a couple of tips on how to better utilize the USGS water flow site. For those of you asking I hope this helps and will hopefully help you to catch more fish. Take care and hope to see you on the water soon!
My first Brown landed fishing with Spanish/French nymphing.
Up close and personal.
Water Flow: 423 cfs
Water Temp: 46F am
Water Condition: good
Access Point: Church pool-am, Lower TMA- am
Hatches (in order of importance): Caddis 22, Bwo 22-24
Comments: I saw lots of fisherman on the river today with smiles on their face and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves in spite of the few passing showers, as for me today’s opener went well for me picking up a few fish early this morning on Caddis Pupae as I enjoyed a hot cup of Joe, and then later on in the am I caught a pair of nice browns Euro nymphing some small, quick, pocket water with a 12 Golden Stone, trailed with a 16 Flashback Hares Ear. I was excited to see a Hendrickson on my rod as I was walking down the trail to the river. I have heard reports of several fishermen spotting them on the water, however the fish are still ignoring any floating duns and not yet identifying them as a food source. Fishing the nymphs in the weeks to come should produce some fish that are keying in on the active nymphs as they prepare to make their grand entrance. These nymphs are already making a significant appearance in my kick seine. Also for you dry fly fisherman try fishing the emerger patterns until you see the fish turn to the duns as a major food source. Good luck and hope to see you all on the water in the days to come.
Hatches (in order of importance): Caddis 20-22, Black Stoneflies 16-20, BWO 22-24.
Comments: The morning caddis have kept the trout rising and fly rods bent for the past week or so. There have been lots of adult caddis along the banks and fish have been lying in wait to take them. This hatch is what’s happening on the Farmington now so grab your rods and head out to catch some early morning, caddis sipping, trout on dries. There have been a few Stoneflies buzzing around bringing some fish to the surface to pursue them. I have spotted some rises in the evening to sporadic hatches of BWO’s 22-24. Still seeing lots of Golden Stones 16, along with Hendrickson nymphs 16-18 in my seine. Might want to try some Cranefly larvae in big sizes on or near sandbars, seeing lots of them in my stream samples near those areas of the river.
4-3-10 I not sure of my exact feeling with what is going on at the Dam right now. We have had tons of rain and it has caused many problems here in New England over the past week or so. Here is the thing that Irks me. All week the flows on the Farmington River have steadily fallen and then yesterday the water tapered down to definitely fishable levels. The water from the dam was like 150cfs. They let the water drop and run all day with a combined flow of around 800cfs once you added the Still River. Now here’s the part I don’t understand, why would they let the water run low all day long on Friday and then let it all go and run 2000cfs on the weekend when its 70 plus degrees outside and a mad mass of fisherman are ready to kick their year off with their CT. licenses in their pockets which they paid twice as much for this year. Hmmm, I really think the smart and courteous thing to do would have been to run water all day yesterday and then to try to minimize the flows on the weekend so all the people that pay the ever rising price of licensing fees, high energy prices, high energy taxes, etc…etc…etc… (and believe me the list goes on and on and on) could get on out there and enjoy the sunshine and the Easter holiday. I guess it goes to show us that a little courtesy may be too much to ask for in these days and times. Off I go to enjoy the morning fishing in the woods with the water running at 2700cfs, have fun!
3/13/10 When I got on the river the water temperature was a chilly 36 degrees. The rain and low water temps ensured that the winter/summer Caddis were a no go. However, the rain and high water made an excellent opportunity to nymph for trout. Two important things to remember when targeting trout with nymphs are to identify their food source, and to get your flies down. Identifying food source is important because it can certainly change drastically form one section of river to the next. You can and should do this each time you fish by just turning over a few rocks and inspecting the life underneath. So after turning some rocks over and sampling the streambed, I found the largest concentrations of macro organisms to include 20-22 green caddis larvae, and 16-18 mayfly nymphs. I like to fish these patterns tied from the bend of a larger, and heavier point fly with a 12” piece of tippet material. The point fly should be larger, and weighted to help get the “team” of flies to the bottom quickly. You can get your flies down with some split shot applied to the leader ahead of the point fly. Next time your on the water and find nothing apparently happening, two things you might try are turning over a few rocks and determining a trout’s diet, or simply drifting some nymphs along the bottom.